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IT at the CIA

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the homesec dept.

Security 314

neocon writes "The current issue of the CIA's Studies in Intelligence (unclassified edition, natch) has an article on the state of IT within the CIA, titled 'Failing to Keep Up With the Information Revolution', which looks at how the agency has fared in staying up to date both with information security needs and with promising new technologies."

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Interesting... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6049380)

But this Bone-O-Rama thing seems to work quite well.

The CIA needs more girls like this! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6049382)

How can BSD [freebsd.org] be dying when it has a mascot [freebsd.org] like this?! Linux needs to get its act together if it's going to compete with the kind of hot chicks [hope-2000.org] and gorgeous babes [hope-2000.org] that BSD has to offer!

You just can't take Linux [redhat.com] seriously when its fronted by losers [nylug.org] like these. You Linux groupies need to find some sexy girls like her [hope-2000.org] ! I mean just look at this girl [madchat.org] ! Doesn't she [madchat.org] make you hard? I know this little hottie [madchat.org] floats my boat! This guy looks like he is about to cream his pants standing next to such a fox [spilth.org] . As you can see, no man can resist this sexy [spilth.org] little cock teaser [spilth.org] . Even this old bearded Unix guru is apparently unable to take his eyes off her [kurtspace.com] !

With sexy chicks [spilth.org] like the lovely Ceren you will have people queuing up to buy open source products. Look! This guy can't get in there fast enough with her [kurtspace.com] in the doorway! Come on, you must admit she [kurtspace.com] is better than an overweight penguin! Don't you wish you could get one of these [drexel.edu] ? Join the campaign for more cute [madchat.org] open source babes [madchat.org] today!

First Post (0, Flamebait)

iONiUM (530420) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049384)

Move out of your parent's basement and take your fucking penguin t-shirt off, nobody cares that you like linux, especially your non-existant girlfriend.
Maybe you should format your computer, which is no doubt [slashdot.org] running some Microsoft varient, because as well as being fat you dont want to be called a hypocrit now do you?

Re:First Post (-1, Offtopic)

tha_mink (518151) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049927)

Move out of your parent's basement and take your fucking penguin t-shirt off, nobody cares that you like linux, especially your non-existant girlfriend.


It's funny because it's true.

Bullshit. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6049387)

Indeed.

What the CIA needs: (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6049399)

less technical assets, more people in the field.

Re:What the CIA needs: (4, Insightful)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049490)

I agree that there has been way too much dependance on electronic survailance in the past couple of decades. This has left us in a uniquely bad position to deal with threats from decentralized terrorist-type outfits. That's hard to argue.

On the other hand, there's a lot more to technical assets than just spy satellites and evesdropping on phone calls. Specifically, the intelligence community needs to concentrate on technologies that will let them "know what they know", especially in the face of an exponential amount of available data.

Example: Knowing that a terrorist is about to strike and knowing who and where they are is useless if one person knows about the threat, one person knows who the terrorist is and the location is in some obscure database (which is pretty much what happened on 9-11). It's only when that information is brought together that it becomes useful.

Again, however, the CIA has dropped the ball on human assets in recent years, mostly because they (and the people who fund them) lacked the imagination to envision the new threats in the post-Soviet era. Hopefully, this is something that's being corrected as we speak.

Not Exactly... (4, Insightful)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049622)

"Again, however, the CIA has dropped the ball on human assets in recent years, mostly because they (and the people who fund them) lacked the imagination to envision the new threats in the post-Soviet era".

While the intelligence community did indeed have a lack of vision with post-Soviet threats, the biggest reason for the dropoff in human assets was a combonation of over-reliance on gee-whiz technologies, like satellite surveilance, and just plain El-Cheapo budgeting on the part of Congress. Basically, after 1991, the attitude was "what do we need spies for? We've got satellites now". After September 11th, when the media was ravaging the CIA for not preventing the attacks, Tom Clancy was interviewed, and his comments were right on the ball. He basically said "Look, we castrated the CIA, and now you're surprised that the agency is ineffective?". That barb was aimed especially at media members and Congressmen that were in such a hurry to save money by cutting personnel.

CIA Humint - Sigint - Remote Sensing (5, Interesting)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049720)

The CIA's problem isn't a lack of funding, a lack of agents in the field or a lack of IT.

The problem is that since 1980 it hasn't figured out anything in advance.

1983 Hezbollah attacks on France/US missed
1983 Marxist revolt in Granada missed
1989 Czech border reforms missed
1989 E. Germany fall missed
1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait missed
1991 Coup attempt in USSR missed
1992-94 Islamists in Somalia missed
1993 Bombing of WTC missed
1998 African Embassy bombings missed
1999 Attempt on DDG Sullivans missed
2000 Bombing of Cole missed
2001 WTC/Pentagon missed

Clancy has been a CIA supporter for a long-time even though they don't accomplish anything anymore.

I read the Hunt for Bin Laden which is about the Green Berets in Afghanistan which doesn't have anything nice to say about CIA either.

I just don't see how they are relavent anymore.

Re:CIA Humint - Sigint - Remote Sensing (5, Insightful)

fussman (607784) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049769)

1983 Hezbollah attacks on France/US missed
1983 Marxist revolt in Granada missed
1989 Czech border reforms missed
1989 E. Germany fall missed
1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait missed
1991 Coup attempt in USSR missed
1992-94 Islamists in Somalia missed
1993 Bombing of WTC missed
1998 African Embassy bombings missed
1999 Attempt on DDG Sullivans missed
2000 Bombing of Cole missed
2001 WTC/Pentagon missed

Of course, it it always easier to look at the flaws of something rather that the strengths in the same area. How many things did they not 'miss' and actually have an unskilled civilian populace know about it?

Not a fair accounting.... (5, Insightful)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049878)

Like any govermnet agency, CIA is going to screw up from time to time. But even if they had everything they wanted, they STILL couldn't be omniscient.

Part of the problem is that CIA can't publicly talk about their successes much, for fear of jeapordizing personnel or methods. And even when they DO publicly make accurate predictions, often they're ignored.

The perfect example of this happened in 1983. The CIA released a report called "Terminal Giants". It was either ignored or written off as "Reagan-esque right wing propoganda" by the media and leftist politicians. The prediction of the report? That the USSR's economy was dying because of excessive military spending, and that the Soviet Union could collapse within ten years.

Nobody believed them. And to this day, CIA still doesn't get credit for that prediction.

Re:CIA Humint - Sigint - Remote Sensing (5, Insightful)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049883)

And what happened this memorial day weekend?

What happened at the millenium celebrations?

You can only compile a list of the misses, not hits. You have absolutely no idea what they've prevented.

Re:CIA Humint - Sigint - Remote Sensing (4, Insightful)

banzai51 (140396) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049981)

1989 Czech border reforms missed

1989 E. Germany fall missed

1991 Coup attempt in USSR missed

I don't know about the rest of the list, but those listed above were not 'missed'. The CIA was dead on in thier prediction of these events. Wether or not the leaders in charge heeded these assessments is another story.

Plus, you'll never hear of the successes. CIA foils a bomb plot, bombing never happens, thus news never covers the event. So how sure are you that the CIA is ineffective?

Re:Not Exactly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6049955)

another under-reported fact - the FBI gutted the CIA in the 90s. After several CIA spy scandals, the FBI was given authority to find a mole suspected in the US intel community. Several hundred CIA officers were identified and put under suspicion for years; most of their careers were effectively ended. Meanwhile FBI agents received little scrutiny. That went on throughout the 90's as Clinton's politicized FBI took charge - they were busy shooting survivalists and burning out cults. Then only a few years ago, we find out it was FBI agent Robert Hansen.

Re:Not Exactly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6049959)

To add insult to injury, the castration went even deeper. After 1996, even satellite feeds were being cut in an effort to save money. Remember when cutting the budget, the first place you start cutting is where no one will see the effects right away. I'm sure anyone in the IT industry will understand the ignorant, "I don't know what it is all about so we must not need it, and no one will ever miss it.", syndrome.

Re:What the CIA needs: (4, Interesting)

RobertNotBob (597987) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049718)

One of the things I remember most clearly from the morning of 9-11 is the face of a former head of the CIA. He was going from one media outlet to another preaching from the mountaintop that this attack came because of a policy change preventing the CIA from paying known criminals. I don't remember his name off the top of my head, however I do remember he was on every channel saying the exact same thing over and over.

So there were at least SOME people who recognized the need for Human Intelligence, but it unfortunately seems that they were run out of the organization rather than listened to.

Re:What the CIA needs: (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6049901)

Dont think for a second that theyre werent people in the CIA and other agencies that didnt know what was going to happen on 9/11. First of all, all the shorts on airline stocks was a dead give away that SOMEONE knew. How about Bush's brother dropping his insurance coverage on the towers right before the disaster? 9/11 was what we needed to get the public into "ani-terror" mode. Same thing with this SARS garbage. Tell everyone there's a deadly effect to something, then let the media and the gov create the cause. This has been going on for years. The CIA has its own counter spies inside, making SURE they don't have too much info. Add to that the fact that other agencies pretty much despise(sp?) each other and you have more scandals, terrorism, and doubletalk then we'll ever need from other countries. nomorefakenews.com

Re:What the CIA needs: (2, Funny)

emo boy (586277) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049578)

They need to do more research. Look at this photo [blinkindustries.com] from the archives. It shows that Segways were used long before now. Conspiracy is key.

Re:What the CIA needs: (5, Insightful)

tha_mink (518151) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049598)

less technical assets, more people in the field.

And you're qualified to make that assessment how exactly?

Re:What the CIA needs: (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049800)

Because he's freakin' Anonymous Coward ! Jeebus H Christ, that's like questioning Dr. No's credentials! Do you have any idea how many posts he makes to slashdot a day? He's a veritable criminal mastermind, and a genius to boot!

AllYourFreedomsAreBelongToUs: +1, Patriotic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6049774)

Thanks To George W. Bush [whitehouse.org]

Welcome to the United States of Amnesia [democracynow.org]

Cheers,
W00t

Get Your War On [mnfiu.cc]

Re:What the CIA needs: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6049945)

penis.

Sounds like your typical govt agency (4, Insightful)

esconsult1 (203878) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049409)

In my experience, it seems that politics and top down systems design without allowing for filtering up of ideas -- as it typical in most large orgs -- is responsible for this state of affairs.

What makes an org nimble is when they listen to the people who actually dig the trenches. There is no difference in this case, between the CIA, and say, GM.

PlayStation to supercomputer in $50,000 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6049535)

CNET news is reporting:

From PlayStation to supercomputer in $50,000 [com.com]

Re:PlayStation to supercomputer in $50,000 (0, Offtopic)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049592)

By contrast, it is almost impossible for researchers to install the Linux system on Microsoft's Xbox game console.

This is because they dont know how to solder, or dont know where to get a Torx 10 screwdriver to open it?

Re:Sounds like your typical govt agency (4, Insightful)

ianscot (591483) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049766)

What makes an org nimble is when they listen to the people who actually dig the trenches. There is no difference in this case, between the CIA, and say, GM.

Working in a big corporate organization, I couldn't agree more wholeheartedly. You can see a million little bureaucratic failings in something like the CIA or the FBI, and they'll remind you of stuff the senior director at your company once did. Colleen Rowley's memo read like my dang diary -- the way they wouldn't even try for a warrant except under the circumstances they were accustomed to was sooo very typical, and the subsequent promotion of the higher-up who wouldn't pursue Moussaui was dead-on corporate America.

(Makes me wonder why we talk so much about electing people who have business experience leading these enormous companies to public office... The CEO of United Airlines is as out-of-touch with the world of cause and effect as anyone out there.)

Re:Sounds like your typical govt agency (1)

ornil (33732) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049828)

Yes, but in the article the author claims that he looked at other government agencies and big companies, and CIA is behind all those. They are more afraid of IT than you would expect based on the stuff you mention, it seems.

So.. (-1, Troll)

Gortbusters.org (637314) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049411)

Was the alert level red when they were hit with code red? Heh.

Re:So.. (0, Offtopic)

fussman (607784) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049462)

Yes, and orange with SARS.

Re:So.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6049477)

Why should Slashdot quit posting NYTimes articles? The registration?

Re:So.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6049825)

Ah, looks like the mods have finally caught on to your little troll game.

IT at the CIA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6049420)

You mean a government agency has actually started to use Segways?

Oh, I guess that's the wrong IT.

Typing through choked laughter (0, Offtopic)

emo boy (586277) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049461)

Just in case you are retarded and haven't watched the laugh out loud videos at http://www.segway.com [segway.com] , here's a linky.

Dean Kamen flashback (1, Offtopic)

sacrilicious (316896) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049433)

IT within the CIA

I imagined for a moment that the CIA had finally gotten around to equipping all their agents with stealth Segways.

Who gets cooler uniforms? (0, Offtopic)

emo boy (586277) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049434)

IT Swat teams or DI Mod Squad?

what! (-1, Redundant)

VAXGeek (3443) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049438)

I knew someone would end up buying Segways, but I had no idea it would be the CIA.

Hey... (1, Funny)

J-Piddy (581018) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049439)

I saw Spy Games, so I already know how out of date the CIA is!

As well as how vulnerable they are to social engineering...

Re:Hey... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6049485)

what about the movie Sneakers? It's just that easy, people!

Re:Hey... (0)

chadm1967 (144897) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049511)

Spy Games? Is this a movie? I hope not because how could anyone possibly compare the actual CIA to a movie?

Re:Hey... (1)

aridhol (112307) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049523)

Every organization is vulnerable to social engineering. As long as at least one login requires a username and password, or you can sneak in and "convince" someone to open the door or log in for you, you can get it. Or take the time, become a mole, and get access "legitimately". It may take some time, and put you in danger, but it will work.

Re:Hey... (1)

Torinaga-Sama (189890) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049568)

TPSFAGA: That's Pretty Standard For A Government Agency

your sig (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6049875)

Isn't the ! a little redundant, since it wouldn't prompt for confirmation after you had written the file?

Re:Hey... (1)

HowlinMad (220943) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049579)

To bad that was based in the early 90's. Watch the movie again.

biggest problem in the CIA (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6049441)

TUTMA - They Use Too Many Acronyms

firewall? we don't need no stinkin' firewall! (5, Funny)

Black Copter Control (464012) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049456)

A friend of mine was talking to an IT type at CSIS (Canadian Security and Intelligence Service -- equivalent to CIA). He asked them what kind of firewall they used for their secure systems.

"We don't use a firewall. We use an air gap."

Re:firewall? we don't need no stinkin' firewall! (1)

fussman (607784) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049539)

What? Firewall? Wouldn't that burn the whole place down? Dang kids playing with fire! They don't know what they're messing with.

Re:firewall? we don't need no stinkin' firewall! (5, Interesting)

SirWhoopass (108232) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049594)

The US uses the same thing with SIPRNET [fas.org] . It is physically separate from the internet. Script kiddies like to gloat about how insecure military networks are and how they hacked into classified information. Not true. They may certainly have seen some "private" web sites with telephone or social security numbers, but not actual classified information. They'd need to dig a hole and splice fiber first.

I worked for the navy at the pentagon. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6049673)

THe two networks are completely separate. Most people had a classified, and unclassified machine at their desk, completely separate. Once a disk had gone into a classified machine, it could never be used in an unclassified machineagain(In theory) same for hard drives and memory, including printer memory.

TEh only time i have ever heard of the two networks being connected was a seinor chief plugged two lan cards into one computer, just messing around. Caught unholy hell for it, luckily he was the sharpest guy with the most experience in the office(Never fuck with a chief, they run EVERYTHING) and just got a verbal ass kicking, off the record. At least thats how i heard the story.

Presentation by CSIS dude (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6049666)

As a matter of fack this is a rather interesting subject . I recently heard a presentation from the organaztion conserned for the whole IT security of canada (including CSIS) . They only recently implemented an IDS system on one DOD network , which logged an amazing 56,000 "attack attempts" (people port scanning) . 1,000 were serious (is there any windows shares?) and 56 had obtained access to the DoD network . Now this network was not a honeypot (actual production network) , so its kinda of scary . They do actually have some firewalls implace but they arent very effective (more than 1/2 of those 56 access obtained occured on "protected" networks) . Now it is highly probably that all these numbers were exegerated (or not) as they want more money .

Re:firewall? we don't need no stinkin' firewall! (4, Insightful)

JohnnyCannuk (19863) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049684)

Otherwise known as "sneaker net"...

Seems better than a firewall to me. They can't hack you if you're not on the network. Isolated networks are always more secure than public ones, as long as the location they are at is physically secure and trust me, places like CSIS, CSE (our NSA) and the Mounties are VERY secure.

Besides, your "friend" could lose his job if he told you what firewall they use on their public facing networks....

Re:firewall? we don't need no stinkin' firewall! (1)

DogIsMyCoprocessor (642655) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049713)

I hope their network isn't wireless, then.

Re:firewall? we don't need no stinkin' firewall! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6049894)

A friend of mine was in a Cisco class with a Dept of Defense WAN engineer. They have a wall in the IT department of people's personal equipment (hard drives from laptops and PDAs) that they plugged in to the secure network. Their network detects the unauthorized equipment, and they IT guys get to hang it on the wall using a 12" spike.

The $ETHNIC military uses an air gap too. (1)

vaxer (91962) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049905)

In fact, their entire network is airgapped -- it's all Wi-Fi. No cables, no hackers, no problem.

Re:The $ETHNIC military uses an air gap too. (0, Offtopic)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049935)

hehehe... mod parent up FUNNY! Whooo... those $EXPLETIVE $PERJORATIVE $ETHNIC's...

I had a chance to look at the classified edition (3, Funny)

IWantMoreSpamPlease (571972) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049475)

Editing out the more sensitive bits (I'll put periods in for the text), here's what it says:

"...all.....your......base......are.....not....b el ong....to....us...."

They are lying (3, Insightful)

bstadil (7110) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049480)

They are lying.

This is just a plug for more resources. Do you really believe they would publish this if it was true.

Today Sig at /.

What upsets me is not that you lied to me, but that from now on I can no longer believe you. -- Nietzsche

is uncanny prescient.

slashdot = gay (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6049481)

next story please! this one sucks.

Bah, just a front! (4, Funny)

BitwizeGHC (145393) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049483)

Everybody knows the "declassified" version is just a diversionary tactic to make us THINK the agency is behind the times, IT-wise. In reality, they've slipped nanites into everyone's drinking water to track the populace's movements and habits, beaming the data through the ether to the giant mainframe computers under Mt. Weather (where the CIA also happens to keep its massive drug stash).

Remember, just because you're paranoid...

Re:Bah, just a front! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6049527)

Don't mean they're not after you?

Re:Bah, just a front! (1)

haystor (102186) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049711)

How did you submit this? The nanites should have prevented such a submission. Peculiar.

--- BEGIN NANITE ORDER ---
MEMWIPE 24 HOURS
REBOOT
---- END NANITE ORDER ----

Move along.

Re:Bah, just a front! (1)

swimmar132 (302744) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049738)

It amused me that this post was immediately preceded by this one:

They are lying. This is just a plug for more resources. Do you really believe they would publish this if it was true. Today Sig at /. What upsets me is not that you lied to me, but that from now on I can no longer believe you. -- Nietzsche is uncanny prescient.

Re:Mt. Weather (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6049888)

You're lame. I know a lot of people who work up at MT. Weather and it's not all that hi-tech. I've also driven by there personally (it's pretty cool at night) but never inside. Also, I've yet to hear about drugs being stashed in the mountain. I've heard them seeing various "high level" politicians but no drugs.

If any of you believe that the CIA isn't on top of their game you are blind. Their "public" budget has been increasted 50% from last year (who knows what their classified budget is now).

Remember that companies like SAIC play a major role in the US' spying programs and activities. They say they are a "private employee owned" company...check out who's on the board of directors.

-PR

Interesting recommendations (2, Interesting)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049489)

Looking at the recommendations, what seems to pop out is that there is more a need for information organization than new-fangled gee-whiz technotoys. Analyst websites available via intranet, and the ability to search and join together information from various analyst accounts seem to be the major needs.

/. in trouble? (4, Funny)

Vengeance (46019) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049491)

In the news: Hackers at a web site called 'slash-dot' (we believe it to be a hate-site against Indian developers) have instituted a denial-of-service attack against CIA web servers. Teams are currently raiding several OSDN locations in order to preserve freedom.

-- John Ashcroft, here to help you

Re:/. in trouble? (1)

fussman (607784) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049621)

Good point.
Now why would we want to piss off the American Government with a slashdotting? Please, all of you, pay attention to what you are doing!

Made for OSS.. (5, Interesting)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049503)

One reason is that DI offices cannot easily get funding for new software packages. The funding required for the development and testing of such tools--typically, tens of thousands of dollars per year--is small in comparison to the CIA's total budget. But it is enormous in the context of the discretionary funds that an individual office has--let alone an individual analyst.

Another reason for open source. I'm the lone OSS outpost in my military operation and when the budget cuts came, the OSS got rolled out!

Previously it was tough as hell but I am bringing in more and more OSS packages all the time that give some great functionality like Post-Nuke, phpESP, etc.

Now I can damn near get away with murder because I am still bringing some great functionality in with no additional cost.

This mantra has sold Linux more than anything else: "Services, not platforms".

Repeat

Re:Made for OSS.. (5, Interesting)

StandardDeviant (122674) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049645)

Yeah, as I was reading that article, I was struck by how handy something like a secure version of LiveJournal [livejournal.com] would be to an intelligence organization. Each analyst could post things up, works in progress, tidbits of interest, or formal product, which could then be syndicated by other analysts and consumers of analytic content in a fluid manner (NB: obviously would need some additional access, authentication, and authorization infrastructure to regulate who can syndicate what). Further, the LJ codebase would allow feedback on each entry in the analyst's "text stream", or I should say "media stream". And as a bonus, clients exist to talk to LJ servers from pretty much any platform, and most don't require any knowledge of HTML or similar technologies by the end user. The source code for the LJ server system as well as most of the clients is available here [livejournal.com] but as usual for any outside product, it'd probably be wise to commission a source review of it before putting it into production in a secure environment. (This may be one way to help fund the projects, if possible, by commissioning project developers to contribute to the security process, and allowing the non-agency-specific security changes to be rolled back into the public sphere, analogous to the NSA's SELinux [nsa.gov] .)

Re:Made for OSS.. (1)

Degrees (220395) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049810)

And here I thought what they needed for their Analyst Websites was just to throw up some slashcode. ;-)

Re:Made for OSS.. (1)

ashpool7 (18172) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049911)

Maybe rolling OSS out cheaply works in a sandbox where you can trust everything. Somehow I doubt that's good enough for the CIA.

While development costs could be curtailed with OSS, it is unlikely that they will be eliminated. Who writes software with the CIA in mind? Modifications to make OSS software work within the CIA model will be required, not to mention the granular security features that would have to be added. IIRC, it's either A or B grade trusted systems where they have to prevent communication via morse code using on/off file locking. Those are the kind of things I don't think anyone except the CIA/NSA/whoever thinks about when designing software.

This doesn't eliminate the testing cost either. While thorough testing doesn't seem like a big deal with many OSS projects, many corporations and (obviously) the CIA require that an application be tested in a standard fashion before being deployed. Find a bug? That's more man-hours to fix it right there.

Anyway, my point is that even if the software is free and open source, it's still probably going to cost a significant amount of money for the CIA to use it. Perhaps more, since sometimes it's harder to beat an application into doing what you want it to than to simply start it from scratch. Many OSS projects have realized this.

Re:Made for OSS.. (1)

jwbozzy (519130) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049943)

Ok, and how many times has Nuke been r00table?? God, I hope you are lying through your teeth...

HAHAH! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6049988)

Post-Nuke!!! That was excellent! Funny, but way to obvious.

Way off base (5, Insightful)

mental_telepathy (564156) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049545)

As far as I can tell, the author's main concern is that the CIA is not keeping up with the private sector due to security constraints. All I can say is, thank God. Any recent security poll will tell you that corporations have multiple security incidents per year, even if they take an active interest in security. Do we really want the CIA to publish a statement saying some script kiddie is publishing the names of suspected terrorists?

Re:Way off base (1)

PD (9577) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049821)

Yes, that would be good. Just look how long it took to get the spooks to admit that MLK and Einstein were on lists of suspected communists.

more info on In-Q-Tel (4, Informative)

ih8apple (607271) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049572)

Are you guys familiar with In-Q-Tel [in-q-tel.com] ? (It's mentioned in the article)

Here's an article [wired.com] .
and another [atnewyork.com] ...
and another [usatoday.com] ...
and another [washingtonpost.com] ...

IN SOVIET RUSSIA (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6049577)

The KGB keeps up with IT...so they can keep up with you.

for Troll Tuesday I proclaim that michael should suck it HARD!

a different kind of moderation... (0, Offtopic)

fussman (607784) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049584)

'Failing to Keep Up With the Information Revolution'

Didn't someone earlier today say something about giving mod points to articles?
I would mod this article "-1 Flaimbait."

Insider info (1)

Chagatai (524580) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049605)

I could tell you what that state of IT really is inside the CIA. Of course, then I'd have to kill you.

Cooks don't need IT! (1)

cpopin (671433) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049623)

Why would the CIA [ciachef.edu] have a need for technology advancements? Cooking's old school.

It reads like a help desk... (3, Interesting)

gamgee5273 (410326) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049655)

This is a similar tact, though not exact, to the help desk structures that are successful. The DI analyst's job sounds quite a bit like the job my staff has to handle, and many of the suggestions like the ones I am regularly making.

I would suggest they actually look at those models. ITIL (the IT Infrastructure Library, brought to you by the British government) is an excellent set of guidelines to start off with...

Then they can hire me. :)

Pennywise (2, Funny)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049677)

I don't recall seeing the CIA anywhere in Stephen King's "IT". However, it would not surprise me if they now employed Pennywise the Clown in their espionage efforts.

Actually, I'm kind of cheered up by this. (4, Funny)

kahei (466208) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049678)


It's nice to know the CIA has lots of people who just sit at desks and do boring stuff and spend their time trying to find pesky documents. I was afraid they *all* spent their time ferrying cocaine around southeast asia and creating military dictatorships.

Sounds like they need to buy some nice commodity content-management and data mining software and a timesheet system. It's so cosy!

CIA overthrows dictatorships (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6049730)

"time ferrying cocaine around southeast asia and creating military dictatorships"

The CIA is actually known for overthrowing military dictatorships, and helping countries fend off invaders.

first hand experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6049685)

I havent read the article yet, but I can tell you a first hand experience. On a business trip I was in Washington DC. I had my laptop on in my car, and as I drove past the CIA it happened to find an access point labeled CIA. WEP was enabled but still, I think that the CIA should not use such an insecure method of communication. Honeypot maybe?

Disclaimer: I did not intentionally stumble upon this access point, nor did I attempt to access or decrypt its transmissions. I just drove past and it happened to pop up.

Tax dollars at work... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6049689)

so far 25 minutes and still accessable (not slashdotted). At least the CIA IT people know how to keep a system up under load.

"Military Intelligence" is an oxymoron (3, Insightful)

djeaux (620938) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049698)

I know it's a cliché, but it's true.

I agree with the poster down the page who opined that what the CIA needs is more people in the field. Look around the typical IT department & ask yourself, "Are these geeks the kind of folks I want providing vital information to the guys who have their fingers on the nuclear button?"

It's pretty obvious -- regardless of your position on operation Iraqi "Freedom" -- that electronic surveillance is not very reliable without plenty of dirty on-the-ground spying. Another way to put it is "Where are all those WMDs?" We saw the "pictures"...

Civilian not Military (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6049836)

"Military Intelligence"

It is a cicilian organisation.

Re:Civilian not Military (1)

djeaux (620938) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049932)

It is a cicilian organisation.

The Mafia is a Sicilian organization.

The CIA is no more "civilian" than I believe everything the US government tells me. If it walks like a duck & quacks like a duck, it doesn't matter if it tells you it's a dog.

Infighting (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6049736)

A little mouse once told me a story about two different IT groups in the CIA focusing a lot of effort on making the other group look bad. This infighting has led to a lot of missed opportunities.

not clear on the concept (4, Insightful)

gclef (96311) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049744)

The first part of his analysis reads very clearly like someone who didn't bother to understand the business he was advising before spouting off. (This is a common problem with consultants.)

He dismisses the security concerns that prevent a lot of technology deployment as risk elimination rather than risk management, and says that this attitude hurts IT deployment within the CIA. The thing is, he says this without understanding that the CIA's risk profile is *totally* different from a business risk profile. The CIA can not take risks that a business can, as lives, not dollars, are at stake in the work they do. Any actual security consultant who made that mistake would (should) be fired on the spot.

Granted, it sounds like his other recommendations (streamlining procurement, merging different IT groups within the CIA) are reasonable, but as a security person, that first paragraph just set me off.

Mr Hat! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6049757)

(insert Southpark reference here, episode 511) [pipex.com] Mr. Garrison is putting the final touches on his top secret device, which he simply calls "IT". Take it like a man!

CIA says their IT sucks. I wonder why? (1)

Le Marteau (206396) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049764)

(CIA Guy discussing his article from CIA publication) "Yeah, our IT sucks, that's the ticket. Why, it sucks so bad, nobody has to even use encryption to prevent us from listening. It sucks so bad, we can't ever even BEGIN to spy on our own citizens, even if we want to. Terrorists don't have to do ANYTHING to remain anonymous, yeah, that's the ticket. It sucks so bad, I think the Congress should cut us a nice fat check, yeah, that'll help us protect the children."

recruiters told me this three years ago (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6049765)

I went to a job fair and talked with the CIA recruiters. They told me that if I was interested in cutting edge I should stay away. They had hardware and software that was older than dirt and had no budget for anything new and no forceable change in budget status.

I had them send me the employment forms anyway...

I then went to a dot.bomb - iCAST.com -
I should have gone with the CIA::

questions on the form ( in addition to listing all relatives, frinnds, neighbors, aquaintences, relatives neighbors aquaintences etc.)

Do you have any issue with being relocated during your tenure with the CIA

Do you understand that once hired you will remain an employee for a minimum of three years

Do you understand that at any time you may be relocated to wherever we need your services

e-mail vs. formal message traffic (5, Interesting)

KD7JZ (161218) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049776)

I worked for a large 3 Letter Agency during the late 80's through the mid-90s and one large issue we had was the transition from formal message traffic to e-mail. The military/intel community for years had a network for sending formal message traffic. These were written messages with formal accountability. They could be used to order actions, dispatch personnel, transfer money. When e-mail came along it was a big challenge to figure out if that same accountability could be built into e-mail or not.

SAIC (2, Informative)

lpret (570480) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049815)

I was just reading an article in Business 2.0 (yes, I try to help out where I can) about a group called SAIC [saic.com] that does a lot of data mining and management for the CIA as well as many other aspects of the government. Apparently they do quite a bit of the security aspect of the CIA as well. Now if only they'd go public, their stock would be incredible...

Tool (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6049843)

It was daylight when you woke up in your ditch. You looked up at your sky then. That made blue be your color. You had your knife there with you too. When you stood up there was goo all over your clothes. Your hands were sticky. You wiped them on your grass, so now your color was green. Oh Lord, why did everything always have to keep changing like this. You were already getting nervous again. Your head hurt and it rang when you stood up. Your head was almost empty. It always hurt you when you woke up like this. You crawled up out of your ditch onto your gravel road and began to walk, waiting for the rest of your mind to come back to you. You can see the car parked far down the road and you walked toward it. "If God is our Father," you thought, "then Satan must be our cousin." Why didn't anyone else understand these important things? You got to your car and tried all the doors. They were locked. It was a red car and it was new. There was an expensive leather camera case laying on the seat. Out across your field, you could see two tiny people walking by your woods. You began to walk towards them. Now red was your color and, of course, those little people out there were yours too.

Look at the CIA website (0, Troll)

ThomasFlip (669988) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049881)

If you goto the CIA website and look under the careers section, they want people with WINDOWS experience. I think that sums up there lack of adaptivity.

Technology? (1)

bobm17ch (643515) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049891)

It`s the topology of the CIA that is causing the problem.

Any organisation with so many unique elements will struggle to create a single IT framework to complement and aid information availability.

The best solution is to implement several, smaller-scale solutions, defined by the goals and interests of individual areas, and work towards integration at a time when these technologies are mature.

Economical and soundly-engineered methods are the only way to ensure long term functionality in the longer term.

This guy missed something (2, Funny)

PolyDwarf (156355) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049895)

Clearly, we need more information about the people in the CIA, and what their relative abilities are, not whining about the IT abilities or lack thereof.. I mean, where's the mention of John Clark?

oh not THAT "It" (4, Funny)

zzyzx (15139) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049973)

Anyone else think at first that this was going to be about the CIA buying some segways?

This is not limited to the CIA (5, Interesting)

nemaispuke (624303) | more than 11 years ago | (#6049980)

Before I retired from the Navy, I worked in an Intelligence facility at the Top Secret level. The equipment that was available to me was several Macs (to produce PowerPoint slides), a Sun Sparc 10 used as a file and print server, a terminal to connect to PROFS (IBM OfficeVision) to read Top Secret e-mail, another Mac to access the Secret LAN and read Secret e-mail. There were no unclassified PC's, Macs, or Unix workstations to "surf the net" despite reading an article in the same command about "open source intelligence". Part of the problem is compartmenting the information which makes it difficult to search for information since not everyone can access all the information based on the compartments an individual is cleared for. This will not go away soon. And let's not get into the politics of it.
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